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Liberian government imposes restrictions on Ebola media coverage

A pronouncement from the Liberian government made public at the Ministry of Information and Culture's (MICAT) weekly press conference in Monrovia has imposed a ban on media coverage of Ebola stories and photos of victims. It is still unclear which exceptions there are to this ban.

The comment has been attributed to both the Deputy Minister of Information for Press Affairs, Isaac Jackson and Asst. Minister for Preventive Services Tolbert Nyesuah.

The rationale for the pronouncement – which has been criticized by media stakeholders and section of the citizenry – could not be determined.

It would appear that the government is concerned that the volume of information put out by the media is counterproductive. This view is not tenable to many media stakeholders – including the leadership of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) – who delink any connection between media coverage and the spread of Ebola.

PUL President K. Abdullai Kamara says this is not an isolated incident, but an extension on efforts to clamp down on media using the state of emergency edict that has witnessed the closure of media houses and efforts at putting strictures on registration of media licenses.

The Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP) sees the pronouncement as nothing short of censorship, as it sends out a wrong signal to the media fraternity that their contribution in the fight to contain the epidemic is redundant.

Many people commenting on the issues on social media have indicated preparedness to flout the ban.

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